The U.S. Postal Service has been in trouble for quite some time. With more and more people choosing to go digital to take care of bills, legal documents, and pretty much all other forms of correspondence, they haven't exactly kept up with the times. I mean, let's be honest—when was the last time you sent snail mail?
And let's not forget how much we all hate this:
That's why it's not surprising to see that a new service called Outbox wants to replace paper mail completely. Outbox is a digital inbox for your postal mail that scans and saves a digital copy of each letter, bill, and magazine you receive so you never have to check your mailbox again.
The service is currently live in Austin, TX and is rolling out in San Francisco on March 25th, with plans to expand to the entire Bay area in the next few months (and additional cities later if the initial launch goes well). For $4.99 a month, you can have your mail scanned and encrypted, which you can access from a desktop or mobile app.
Unwanted mail is shredded and recycled, and mail that you save can be sorted into folders or turned into to-do items with reminders. Anything that you want physical access to, like checks or magazines, is delivered to your physical address once a week.
Getting tons of junk mail? You can unsubscribe from a sender directly from the app and never receive mail from them again, which cuts down on paper waste and hassle.
And what about security?
Outbox employees are subject to strict background checks and are only permitted access to the metadata attached to your account, not the actual contents of your mail. Your password and files are encrypted and anything you don't want is shredded after 30 days. And if that doesn't comfort you, Outbox offers $1 million identity theft protection.
Outbox is very similar to an existing service called Earth Class Mail, but much cheaper. It's unclear what this means for the USPS. If it's adopted by a large number of users, it could actually cut costs for them since the mail handlers for Outbox would be taking some of the work off their hands. I wouldn't be surprised to see them adopt a similar system in the future.
Needless to say, the service isn't for everyone. If you get a lot of really sensitive mail, or mail that you need access to fast, Outbox is not a good way to go. But for people who travel a lot, or just want to de-clutter their desks, it could be a real time saver.
If you live in Austin or San Francisco, you can sign up to save your spot on Outbox's website. As for the rest of us, we'll just have to wait and see if the service catches on.
What do you think? Is the convenience worth it for you, or would you be too worried about privacy and security? Let us know in the comments below.